QUESTIONS over whether Solihull Council will be able to safeguard vulnerable children have been raised following the death of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes.
A cross-party group of MPs has written to Education Secretary, Kit Malthouse, to tell him they are “extremely concerned” about whether the chief executive of Solihull Council is up to the job of improving children’s services.
The Education Select Committee’s letter comes after it spoke to the senior officials from Solihull Council and Bradford Council – where 16-month-old Star Hobson was murdered and said it found their reassurances “inadequate”.
The letter states: “Unfortunately, we found the responses from both councils inadequate, leaving us extremely concerned as to whether the current leadership of Solihull and Bradford Councils will be able to safeguard other vulnerable children.”
They added that council chiefs in Solihull, where six-year-old Arthur was murdered, needed to be held to account about their failings.
Birmingham City fan Arthur was poisoned, starved and beaten at his home in Shirley in a campaign of abuse carried out by his dad Thomas Hughes and step mum Emma Tustin.
In December Tustin, 32, was handed a life sentence with a minimum term of 29 years for his murder and Hughes, 29, was handed a 24 year sentence for manslaughter.
Star was murdered by her mother’s girlfriend, Savannah Brockhill, at her home in West Yorkshire, in September 2020.
Star’s mother, Frankie Smith, 20, was found guilty of causing or allowing the youngster’s death.
The group of MPs called on ministers to make sure that commitments made by both council bosses to improve services over 12 months were followed through.
In response to the letter Solihull Council’s chief executive, Nick Page, said he felt he is best placed to work with colleagues and partners to address the issues.
He added: “I have acknowledged and accepted the findings of both the JTAI and the National Panel reports and been committed to improving safeguarding in Solihull.
“I understand that people want to see action and that we are making a positive difference to children and young people’s lives in Solihull.
“This is why I am determined to continue to lead our efforts to make the necessary changes, to drive through the recommendations.
“We have now appointed a brand-new leadership team within Children’s Services with Pete Campbell taking up the director’s role in October, and two assistant directors already in post.
A Department for Education spokesperson said:”We cannot be complacent when it comes to protecting vulnerable children and will not hesitate to take additional steps to drive swift improvement. We are working on a bold plan for wide scale reform in children’s social care which we will publish later this year.”